Under the Influence: John Deakin and the Lure of Soho
11 April – 13 July 2014
London Soho in the 1950s and early 60s, as seen through the eyes of John Deakin.
Although he enjoyed a successful stint at Vogue, it was the nearby pubs and clubs of Soho that Deakin found most interesting. A legendary member of the maverick crowd of artists, writers, poets and misfits who frequented the area, he spent the post-war decades documenting bohemian life in Soho. The display includes pictures of West End lights, street signs, urban nightscapes and graffiti, as well as images of artisans, tradesmen and outsiders.
Loved and loathed in equal measure by friends and drinking companions, Deakin socialised with the likes of Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, Francis Bacon and Dylan Thomas, many of whom he captured in a series of photographic portraits - shown here. Also on display are the pictures he took of celebrated beauty and artist’s model Henrietta Moraes and Muriel Belcher, proprietor of the fabled drinking den The Colony Room.
Keen to be recognised as an artist rather than a photographer, Deakin all but gave up the practice in the 1960s to turn instead to painting. In contrast to the uncompromising quality of his photographic work, his paintings were characterised as simple, colourful and naive and met with limited success. A selection of his artwork and collages are shown together for the first time.
Also included in the exhibition, related ephemera such as Deakin’s dismissal letter from Vogue and his subsequent correspondence with its editor Audrey Withers, as well a number of his magazine layouts.